Iraq

Dr Saad Eskander

This is a guest post by ami:

I urge you to listen to this very inspiring interview with a very brave man, Dr Saad Eskander, director of Iraq’s National Library, repeated on Radio 4 tonight, or online.

Dr Eskander returned to Baghdad from 21 years of exile in London, shortly after the fall of Saddam. to lead the rescue of the books and archival treasures of Iraq. His harrowing blog of the period November 06 to July 07 is hosted on the British Llibrary website

He persists with his task despite the horrific fate of some of his staff and personal death threats to himself. He describes how one of the first things he did was to search for and rescue 846 Hebrew books, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. All Jewish schools, synagogues and colleges had been closed by Saddam’s regime and the Ministry of Interior had seized all books and archives.

Despite all this, Dr Eskander, an ethnic Kurd vehemently against all sectarianism and tribalism, is as sure today as on the day Saddam’s statue fell, still the happiest day of his life, that the US invasion was the right, the only solution. He believes that it had proved impossible for such a powerful regime to be destroyed from within.

Fergal Keane asks him what he has to say to people, particularly on the left, who would say he was hoodwinked, a willing puppet of American imperialism.

Dr Eskander responded that he is a socialist, who fights for social democracy and equality, be it of gender or ethnic groups. He has been the most vocal critic of US post invasion policy and practice, on US national TV and elsewhere, but still stands by his view of the invasion itself.

As for the future, he takes the long view and is full of optimism. He is confident that the Iraqi people will not allow a dictator to reemerge; “we tasted dictatorship for 60 years; powersharing will be the formula for the next 20-30 years”.

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